Time and again, you've heard the proposition that saddle choice is strictly personal. "Just try them all, and pick the one that suits you the best," they say. Typically, that's a lot easier said than done. Even moderately-priced triathlon saddles can run in the $150 range, so trying several saddles can be an expensive game to play. The problem is that you don't really get a feel for a saddle after its first ride -- you need some time with it. Some stores boast a "generous" 30-day return policy. Cobb Cycling is doing something a heck of a lot better. They give you a full six months to try out a saddle. Half a year. An entire season, really. You could potentially buy all the saddles in their lineup, try them all out for an extended period, and keep the one you wanted.
So that's exactly what we did. We decided to test three of Cobb's models -- the V-Flow Plus, the V-FLow MAX, and a new variant of the popular road saddle, the SHC170. While that last saddle isn't specifically marketed to triathletes, it has a shape reminiscent of a very popular triathlon saddle coming stock on a lot of bikes these days, and definitely warrants a closer look. And with the sweet return policy, why not test it out? Once you find our favorite model, all you're out on the others is the return shipping. And you could easily think of that $5 as the 6-month rental price ... a steal, if you ask us.
Each of these saddles was tested with the same bike, a Speed Concept 9-series. We rode the saddles primarily indoors on the trainer, as the weather hasn't been too peachy in Colorado. However, trainer riding is typically the best way to expose a saddle's shortcomings, as you can't make the excuse of a hill to stand up and give your butt a rest. Fortunately for our rear ends, John Cobb has done a LOT of thinking about how triathletes sit, and how to best support the aero position. His designs have gone through a number of iterations, each based on extensive feedback from his own customers. Nowhere else in the triathlon industry have we seen such a close, intimate connection between a product's designer and his or her customers. John actually reads all his consumer feedback, and updates his saddles accordingly. As a result, there's a bit more to the design of these saddles than you might guess at first glance, and each of them warranted a bit of special attention. So, without further ado, here's what we thought of each one.